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Will Smith stars in this week's big release as the ultimate con artist in this smart and sharp Focus.

Will Smith’s near 20 year career of smashing it out of the park came to an abrupt halt when sci-fi spectacle Another Earth so spectacularly failed. He dropped back for a while, licked his wounds (he had penned the story as well as produced the movie with his wife and starred in it with their son) before making a return. We can report that Focus, his latest big screen outing after sitting on the sidelines for the best part of two years, is a confident if not knockout return to form.

Smith is Nicky Spurgeon, a con artist par excellence, who takes in feisty hottie Jess (Aussie newcomer Margot Robbie) under his wings and shows her how the con is done. She’s a natural, the pair hit it off but in a world where you can never trust anyon and nothing is what it seems, it's not going to be simple. By the time they cross paths many years later on the big job, each other’s motivations, skills and desires are up for grabs as everyone, and most importantly the audience, is never sure who is playing which angle.

As caper heist-esque flicks go, the fun is in the journey, the sleight of hand that tricks and beguiles, not in the meat and potatoes of characterisation, human emotion blah blah. To criticise a film this shiny and glossy for a lack of depth would be to miss the point – screenwriters and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy Stupid Love) do attempt to inject an emotional undercurrent to the whole shebang but it is only partially successful.

Smith is on the charm offensive and in this respect Focus plays to his advantages; he is naturally winning and warm and convinces as a smooth talking super-con, but he’s less effective at convincing as the morally-dubious trickster who has eye on the prize and nothing more. Robbie is on the ascendancy though – after a standout turn in Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, she again continues to climb the Hollywood ladder and will be making waves over the next few years with a turn in David Yates’ live action Tarzan alongside the likes of Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson and Alexnder Skarsgard and then re-teaming with Smith for comic- book adap Suicide Squad

The pocket-snatches, the misdirection, the players – the whole game of it is absolutely enthralling to watch and will convince you that there was really more going on than there truthfully is. But while the con is on, it's a blast. 


Focus is out Feb 28 courtesy of Warner Bros

Also out this week

Second Best Marigold Hotel has a tough to act to follow - its first outing was a charming, emotional little gem. Could titling itself ‘second best’ be tempting fate?

The Boy Next Door sees Jennifer Lopez back on the silver screen as a teacher who sleeps with the titular bloke from down the road only for said lucky little man to develop a bit of an obsession with Ms Lopez. A revere Fatal Attraction, if you will.

Film: Focus – Out Feb 27
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